​ሕግንና ደንብን በተመለከተ እርዳታ ማግኘት ይፈልጋሉን? - Amharic | هل تحتاج لمساعدة قانونية؟ - Arabic | ܤܢܝܼܩܵܐ ܝ݇ܘ̤ܬ ܠܗܲܝܵܪܬܵܐ ܩܵܢܘܿܢܵܝܬܵܐ؟ - Assyrian | Need Legal Help? - Auslan | Treba li vam pravna pomoc? - Bosnian | Burmese â Need Legal Help? | 需要法律帮助吗? - Chinese Simplified | 需要法律幫助嗎? - Chinese Traditional | Trebate li pravnu pomoć? - Croatian | ضرورت به کمک قانونی دارید؟ - Dari | Wïc Kuɔɔny në Wɛ̈t Löŋ? - Dinka | آیا به کمک حقوقی نیاز دارید؟ - Farsi | Gadreva na Veivuke Vakalawa? - Fijian | Kailangan ninyo ba ng tulong na panglegal? - Filipino | Besoin d’aide juridique ? - French | Χρειάζεστε βοήθεια σε νομικά ζητήματα - Greek | क्या आपको कानूनी सलाह चाहिए? - Hindi | Butuhkan Bantuan dalam Masalah Hukum? - Indonesian | Hai bisogno di assistenza legale? - Italian | ត្រូវការជំនួយលើបញ្ហាផ្លូវច្បាប់ឬទេ? - Khmer | 법적인 도움이 필요하십니까? - Korean | Ви треба ли помош со правни работи? - Macedonian | कानूनी सहयोग चाहिएको छ? - Nepalese | Necessita de ajuda com questões jurídicas? - Portuguese | Вам нужна юридическая помощь? - Russian | E Manaomia Fesoasoani i Mea Tau Tulafono? - Samoan | а ли вам треба помоћ у правним питањима? - Serbian | Ma u baahan tahay Caawimmad xagga sharciga ah?- Somali | ¿Necesita ayuda con cuestiones jurídicas? - Spanish | சட்ட உதவி தேவையா? - Tamil | ท่านต้องการความช่วยเหลือทางด้านกฎหมายไหม? - Thai | Fiema’u ha tokoni Fakalao? - Tongan | Yasal Danışmaya İhtiyacınız mı var? - Turkish | Cần Được Giúp Đỡ Về Luật Pháp? - Vietnamese |

Going to court - Frequently Asked Questions ​​


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1. I received a f​​​ine for speeding. I want to elect to go to court but I've lost my Penalty Notice. How can I make a court election?

You can elect to have your case heard in court by either:

  • completing an online request
  • completing a court election form
  • writing to the SDRO.

For more information, see Electing to go to court.   

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2. I elected to go to court but I still haven't received ​any court documents. When do I have to go to court?

The SDRO should send you a Court Attendance Notice (CAN) telling you the court, date and time that you have to attend.

If you haven't received a CAN you should contact the SDRO.​

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3. I received a ​Court Attendance Notice for a fine I elected to take to court, but I can't go on that day. What can I do?

If you can't attend court you should contact the court and explain why. It is a good idea to send something in writing, for example, a letter or fax. The court may adjourn (postpone) your matter for a period of time, usually a week or two.

For more information, see Electing to go to court.

If you don't go to court, and you don't contact the court to explain why you can't attend, the court may make a decision without you.

For more information, see Appeals and annulment.

If you know whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty, you may be able to tell the court in writing. If you do this you may not have to attend court. If you want to send the court a written notice of pleading you must do so at least 7 days before your court date.

For more information, see Pleading guilty in writing or Pleading not guilty in writing.    

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4. I elected to go​​ to court for a fine I received when I was on holidays in Coffs Harbour. I have received a Court Attendance Notice telling me I have to attend Coffs Harbour Local Court. I live in Wagga Wagga. I can't take time off work to drive back to Coffs Harbour for court. What can I do?

If you are pleading guilty, you can contact the court and ask for your case to be transferred to a court closer to you. You should send your request in writing by fax to the court.

If you are pleading not guilty, courts will usually not be able to transfer your case to another court. This is because the case needs to stay where the offence took place so that witnesses, for example, the police, can attend the
hearing.

If you know whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty, you may be able to tell the court in writing. If you do this you may not have to attend court. If you want to send the court a written notice of pleading you must do so at least 7 days before your court date.

For more information, see Pleading guilty in writing or Pleading not guilty in writing.


5. I sent the court a​​ Written Notice of Pleading saying that I wanted to plead guilty and I have received a letter saying that I have to go to court. Why?

The court can reject your written notice of pleading for many reasons such as:

  • you sent it too late. It must be lodged with the court at least seven days before your court date
  • the explanation you have given shows that you disagree with the prosecution facts
  • the court does not want to decide the case without you being there.

The court may adjourn the case and you will have to go to court on another date. If you do not go to court on the new date, the case may be heard without you or a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

For more information, see Pleading guilty in writing.   

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6. I was sick and​​ could not get to court for the mention of my case. I have received a letter saying that I was fined $1,000.00 in my absence. I wanted an adjournment. What can I do now?

If you can't attend court you should contact the court and explain why. It is a good idea to send something in writing, for example, a letter or fax. If you are sick you should also send a medical certificate that states that you are not fit to attend court. If you do not tell the court, the magistrate may make a decision without you.

If you have missed your court date and the magistrate made a decision in your absence (without you), you may be able to apply to have the decision annulled (cancelled) and have the matter re-listed.

For more information, see After court.


7. I entered a plea​​ of guilty and asked for a section 10. The magistrate refused to give me a section 10, and gave me a fine instead. Now I'm going to get another 3 demerit points and lose my licence. What can I do?

If you are unhappy with the decision made by the magistrate you may be able to appeal the decision to the District Court. You need to go to the court registry and complete a Notice of Appeal to the District Court form, and pay a filing fee of $111.00 (as at August 2015).

Any appeal must be filed within 28 days of the decision.

For more information about appeals, see After court.

Alert Icon​Before you file an appeal you should get legal advice.

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8. I had an accident​ and was fined for negligent driving. I have elected to go to court because I don't think I was negligent. There was a witness at the time of the incident but they do not want to come to court to give evidence. What can I do?

If you want to make sure that the witness comes to the hearing, you should serve (give them) a Subpoena to Give Evidence. This is a court order requiring the person to come to court. If they do not attend they will face penalties

You should arrange your subpoena as soon as possible, as there are time limits you must comply with when serving the subpoena. You have to give the subpoena to your witnesses at least 5 working days before the hearing.

For more information, see Preparing for the hearing - Step by step guide

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9. I have elected to go to court.​ I am still deciding how​ I should plead, but I have been told to take character references to court. What are these and how many do I need?

A character reference is a letter written by a person who knows you and who can write about your good character.

The magistrate can take character references into account when they are sentencing you for an offence. This may happen because you pleaded guilty, or the court decided you were guilty after a hearing.

There is no set number of character references that you should bring to court, but it may help to bring two or three.

For more information, see Instructions for preparing a character reference.

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10. I have entered a plea of not guilty​​​​ and have been given a hearing date. What will happen at the hearing?

At the hearing, the prosecution will present their case first. This means they will call their witnesses and ask them questions. You can then 'cross-examine' them and ask further questions. After the prosecution has presented their case, you can present your case. You can decide whether or not you want to give evidence and whether you have witnesses you want to call to give evidence. If you or your witnesses give evidence, they will be cross-examined by the prosecutor.

After all the evidence is heard, the magistrate will make a decision. If you are successful, the case against you will be dismissed. If you are unsuccessful, you will be sentenced for the offence.

For more information, see Presenting your case at the hearing - Step by step guide and Arguing your case.

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11. I pleaded not guilty, but now I want to change my plea to guilty.​​ Is it possible to change a plea?

If you entered a plea of not guilty at the mention or in writing, you can change your plea to guilty before the hearing. If you change your plea on the day of the hearing you may be ordered to pay the costs of the prosecution attending the hearing. If you want to try and avoid those costs, you can file an Application to Vacate a Hearing Date. For a copy of the application form, go to the Local Courts website.

Alert IconBefore you apply to vacate a hearing date, you should get legal advice.

If you entered a plea of guilty, you would need to have special circumstances to change your plea to not guilty. If you want to do this you should get legal advice.

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12. If I win my case, or the case is withdrawn by the prosecution, can I ask the court to order the prosecution to pay my costs?

Sometimes when you win a fines case you can ask the court to pay your costs. Costs can include:

  • some or all of the fees you paid to a lawyer
  • costs you paid to witnesses to attend court
  • any expenses you had to run your case.

You will not be able to claim costs for the time you spent representing yourself, or for lost wages.

It can be very difficult to get the prosecution to pay your costs. The court will usually only make a costs order against the police or other public prosecutor, like a local council or Roads and Maritime Services (RMS, formerly RTA) where:

  • the investigation into the offence was conducted in an unreasonable or improper manner
  • there was no reasonable cause for the case to be started
  • the prosecution didn't investigate a matter which suggested the accused person might not be guilty.